This Instructable shows how you may quickly convert camera or smartphone jpeg images of film negatives into quality positives. And, yes - it can be done in less than 5 seconds per negative once the conversion software is properly set up!

This Instructable assumes that you have already taken a digital picture of your negative using a smartphone or digital camera.

There are many ways to convert digital negatives to positives. The simplest way is to use the Invert command available in most photo editors; however this does not correct for the orange mask base color on color film negatives. After using the Invert command, there are various ways to manipulate the Red, Green, and Blue colors to obtain proper balance positive colors, but this can be a time-consuming process that requires some expertise to master. It is far easier and quicker to use VueScan to convert your digital negatives, and get near-perfect results in just a few seconds.

I have found that using a 3rd party software product called VueScan ($40) greatly simplifies the conversion process, although you may want to want to use a photo editing program after the conversion to touchup white balance and contrast. VueScan will convert both color and black-and-white digitized film negatives into quality positives.

The following steps show you how to use the VueScan software to convert your digitized film negatives into quality positives.

Disclaimer: I do not work for VueScan, nor am I affiliated with them in any way. I am simply sharing what I have found to be a simple and fast process to convert negatives.

Note: The three images above are: 1) Initial digitized film negative taken with a Canon Powershot SX110 IS, 2) the initial output from VueScan, and 3) the VueScan image, adjusted for white balance and contrast (touchup is not covered in this Instructable).

Step 1: Obtain digital images of your film negatives

This Instructable assumes that you have a way to obtain jpeg images of your film negatives. For faster processing, it is best to have the negative positioned in approximately the same location in each image to allow for batch cropping and processing; otherwise, each image will need to be cropped individually.

Once you have your digitized negatives, put all of the ones that you want to convert into the same directory/folder on your computer (this will allow you to use VueScan's batch conversion feature).

There are several ways to make digital images of your film negatives. I have found that the easiest way is to build a jig to hold a digital camera in front of a lightbox, and then use another jig to quickly position the negatives in front of the camera. I have documented this in a separate Instructable, located here:


<p>Thanks for sharing your work. How much does VueScan cost? Do you work for them, or are you simply advocating on behalf of a product you can vouch for? </p>
<p>VueScan costs $40 for the standard edition. I do not work for them, nor am I affiliated with them in any way. I came across this non-advertised feature of VueScan (the ability to convert camera jpeg images of film negatives) when I was preparing for some DIY scanning workshops that I gave earlier this year. I have been using the ColorPerfect plugin for Photoshop/PhotoLine to convert camera raw files of digital negatives (which produces excellent results), but VueScan offers a much simpler and more efficient conversion process for the average person wanting to convert digitized film negatives themselves. And the batch processing feature is what really makes this process go fast once you have it set up properly.</p>
<p>Cool! My parents are each sifting through a lifetime of memories and could use some software help for the heavy lifting. </p><p>What a great software tutorial. It might not help all the "but can I do it for free??" folks, but it'll certainly prove helpful for many people. Thanks for sharing. And for clarifying. </p>
<p>I have been using the VueScan product with my scanners for several years and I can highly recommend it. If you use a scanner for scanning your photos, slides, or negatives, I recommend that you download the trial version and check it out. It has a much simpler interface, with more advanced features, than the typical software that comes with your scanner. Not to mention that it also allows you to convert your camera-digitized images of film negatives.</p>

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Bio: I'm an Electrical Engineer by training and profession. I got into digital photography about 3 years ago when my wife and I started a ... More »
More by pbriggs8: How to Convert Film Negatives with a Digital Camera/Smartphone How to Scan Four Photos at Once How to Convert Digitized Film Negatives into Quality Positives in Less Than 5 Seconds
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